Arielle of Calon Onest had finally found the hidden switch to open the door from her chambers into the maze of tunnels located beneath the fortress. Her sister’s mate, Alaric, would be none too pleased and that suited Arielle just fine.
She slipped through the opening, closing it behind her. Arielle removed her clothing and folded it neatly on the floor of the tunnel. She stood quietly and centered herself. When she could feel that she was at peace, she called forth her wolf. The soft tingling started to come to the forefront of her conscious brain, and within moments she was no longer human. All of her senses were heightened, including her ability to see in the dark; as a wolf, the tunnel would no longer be difficult to navigate.
It had been a while since she had shifted into her wolf self. Arielle shook her whole body from nose to tail and felt at one with her surroundings. She ran toward the scent of fresh air and freedom. As she emerged into the light, she looked back over her shoulder to ensure she had managed to get away without anyone noticing.
Arielle began to run. She had forgotten the feel of the soft grass beneath her paws or the way the breeze ruffled the fur of her honey-colored coat.
Earlier in the morning, Alaric had quarreled with Rowan, resulting in his leaving her naked and tied to their bed. Rowan had insisted, yet again, that she would train with their men instead of tending to her duties as mistress, which she often fobbed off on Arielle. Their argument had come to an abrupt halt when Alaric dragged her over his knee and proceeded to spank her until she yielded.
He had returned to their chambers after training with their soldiers. As he started up the main staircase, the thought of returning to her, and seeing her thus, was arousing and he felt his staff begin to harden.
He slipped into their chamber and sat on the edge of their bed beside her. Alaric gathered his mate close. She half-growled and half-purred her arousal as he suckled her distended nipple before nibbling and kissing his way down her naked body.
“Damn you, Alaric,” she seethed. “Dawson came in here with food and found me this way…”
“As I have told you before, if you don’t wish for Dawson to find you tied naked to our bed waiting for my return, then you’d better start minding. I left you covered with a sheet. If he saw you naked, it’s because you threw a tantrum and kicked the sheet off,” he said, standing up to calmly discard his armor and shirt, hanging them off the end of the bed.
His eyes caught hers as she stared at the growing bulge in his breeches. He heard her breath catch in her throat and inhaled deeply as he caught scent of her arousal.
With a feral grin, he said, “Spread your legs for me. Rowan. Let me see the dew glistening at the entrance of your sheath waiting for me to pierce you with my mighty sword.”
He watched as the silent battle of wills raged between them before she sighed and did as he told her. He approached the side of their bed and trailed his fingers through her wet curly hair before scooping out a bit of her essence and bringing it to his mouth to suck from his fingers.
“Alaric, don’t play with me. You made your point and left me like this, now come fuck me.”
“Ask me nicely.”
“Bastard,” she hissed, struggling with her bonds, her arousal and anger feeding off each other.
Alaric reached down to play with the swollen nub between her legs, enjoying her response. After her breathing had become shallow and irregular, he ceased his fondling, causing her to howl in frustration. He traced an imaginary line up the center of her body to briefly encircle each nipple before giving it a pinch hard enough to make her recoil.
“That is not the way to entice me to see to your need, mate.”
“Untie me, you sonofabitch, and I’ll see to my own need and make you pay for this bullshit.”
Alaric quirked his eyebrow at her and clucked his tongue, enjoying her discomfiture. “Perhaps your more immediate need is for me to turn your backside a deeper shade of red before putting you over the end of the bed and fucking your bottom hole.”
“No, Alaric, please,” she relented. “I want to feel your cock in my pussy; better yet, your knot.”
He grinned. “Had I the time to enjoy being tied to you, I would see to that desire, but will tend to that need tonight. If you settle down and behave, I’ll see your pussy well plowed and seeded before I meet with our ranking members. I need to go over some plans for improvements that Bryan has and talk to Tristan about a nasty pattern of misbehavior he is beginning to see in your sweet sister. And you, my mate, will be confined to our chambers.”
Alaric ran his hand up and down her body before lying down next to her, still clothed in his breeches. Rowan had yet to fully accept the idea that she was no longer alpha here and that she would acquiesce to his leadership and authority.
Placing his hand between her legs, he lowered his mouth to her breast, suckling deeply.
“Alaric,” she purred as she rubbed herself against his hand.
He began nibbling, licking, and kissing his way down her body while she remained tied to their bed and writhed under his ministrations in frustrated response. He settled his shoulders between her thighs, lifting the apex of her legs to savor her taste. He nuzzled her clit with his nose as he licked and nibbled his way past her labia to her honeyed heat and prepared to use his tongue like a small cock and fuck her with it. Just as the tip of it passed her entrance, her body arched up in climactic response, the door from the escape tunnels that formed a maze underneath the castle sprang open.
Alaric rolled off Rowan, grabbing a sword that was close by, prepared to defend his mate and his home. A beautiful young she-wolf with a rare honey-colored pelt and stunning blue eyes bounded through the door.
“Arielle?” called Rowan, both in surprise and to alert Alaric that it was her sister and not an adversary.
The she-wolf shifted, and Arielle stood up proud and strong, not seeming to mind that her sister’s mate could see her nakedness.
“Rowan, I have news!” she cried, ignoring Alaric.
Alaric grabbed one of his shirts and tossed it to her. “Put that on, Ari. What the hell do you mean bounding in here unannounced? And why were you in the tunnels? I distinctly remember putting those off limits to everyone except our warriors, the pack’s ranking members and myself. Last time I checked, you weren’t any of those people.”
“But I have news! And my pack has held this fortress long before you came along,” she challenged. “I am entitled to go wherever I want.”
“Ari,” Rowan tried to caution her.
Alaric turned to his mate. “You, be silent.”
Turning back to Arielle, he bellowed, “And you, little wolf, are entitled only to what I say you are. Right now I think that includes a trip over Tristan’s knee for some long overdue correction and punishment.”
“Alaric, at least find out what information she thinks she has…” interrupted Rowan, trying to deescalate the situation.
“You need to know,” said Arielle with more than just a hint of defiance in her voice, “I saw dam-builders up by the reach just inside our borders.”
“What the hell were you doing up by the reach? Who was with you?” asked Alaric as he reached down and untied his mate.
He tried to ameliorate his tone. He was angry with Arielle, but he didn’t want his anger fueled by the sexual frustration her interruption had caused him.
“I was alone…”
“You were what? Didn’t Tristan just scold you about going beyond the castle walls without permission and a proper escort? And you did it by using passageways that are forbidden to you? Do you have any idea how much trouble you’re in, little wolf?”
“But I saw something…”
“What you saw was a group of about two dozen dam-builders at the far corner of our pack’s territory. They will be dealt with in due course.”
“You knew about them?” she asked before looking at Rowan, who had grabbed her dressing gown and pulled it on. “Did you know?” Arielle asked.
Rowan nodded. “I knew they were there. Sloan found them and then Gareth. It was Gareth who told Alaric…”
“And neither of you thought to tell me?” asked Arielle with tears in her voice.
“That is not the point, Arielle. You did something you were told not to do using a means of doing so that was also off limits,” said Alaric.
“You don’t get to tell me what to do…” Arielle said, stomping her foot.
“The hell I don’t.”
Alaric crossed to the door into the hallway and shouted for Tristan. The beta of Calon Onest lost no time in joining them. He strode into the room, sweeping his gaze around the room and rolling his eyes. Alaric knew he had quickly and correctly assessed the situation.
Alaric continued in an angry tone. “It would seem Arielle’s level of disobedience has passed the point of being corrected with scolding or confinement to her chambers alone…”
“Alaric, no!” pleaded Rowan.
“Hush, Rowan,” her mate snarled. “She’s been headed down this path for a while. I mean to have Tristan put a stop to it before she gets herself hurt or killed. Tristan, see that she thinks twice before leaving the castle, going into the tunnels, disregarding the rules, barging into my chambers without permission or disobeying me again.”
Tristan eased past Alaric. “Come, little wolf. It’s time you and I came to an understanding about your role and your behavior.”
Arielle suddenly realized she may have pushed Alaric too far as Tristan grabbed her by the upper arm and headed back toward her room, dragging her behind him. As she cleared the doorway, she could hear Rowan loudly trying to advocate for her as the door slammed shut.
“Perhaps I should apologize…” Arielle started.
“You will be given the opportunity to do so once I’ve seen to your punishment.”
“It won’t do any good to scold me. I didn’t do anything wrong,” Arielle said, digging in her heels.
Tristan spun back to her and she found herself hoisted up over his shoulder as he strode toward her room.
“Tristan, put me down. You can’t manhandle me this way. Rowan won’t allow it.”
Tristan barked a laugh. “Your sister is no longer alpha here. Alaric is, and you have disobeyed him one too many times. I told you last time that if you did it again, I was going to recommend that he turn your discipline over to me. Like any other unmated she-wolf in this pack, I’m going to put you over my knee and give you a spanking you won’t forget any time soon.”
Suddenly realizing she may indeed have gone too far, Arielle started to struggle in order to get him to put her down.
“Let go,” she said in the most regal tone she could muster.
Tristan laughed. Why had he laughed at her?
“No,” he said in a calm and controlled voice.
Arielle redoubled her efforts and when that did not produce the results she wanted, she remembered Rowan once putting her hands together to strike Alaric in the middle of his back.
The incident had occurred when Alaric had first claimed Rowan as his fated mate. Alaric had tossed Rowan over his shoulder and had been headed up the stairs to their chambers to force Rowan to take her vows. Arielle joined her hands together, made a doubled-up fist, and hit Tristan with all her strength. She was feeling a bit proud of herself just before the flat of Tristan’s strong hand connected painfully with her upturned rump.
“Ouch!” cried Arielle.
“You remember that, little wolf. You strike me again to try to avoid a spanking and I’ll spank you for that before I spank you for whatever you did.”
Tristan entered her room, leaned over and set her on her feet. Her knees almost buckled as he put her down. She searched his face and didn’t see any true anger there. Instead, she saw annoyance, displeasure, disappointment, and resignation in equal measure. What worried her the most was the resignation. Arielle was beginning to understand that Tristan intended to punish her in the same way all betas disciplined the unmated females in their pack. This time, there would be no reprieve; she would have her bottom spanked soundly until he was convinced he had made their alpha’s displeasure understood.
Without a word, he closed and locked the door and then crossed to her bed. Sitting down on the edge, he held out one hand to her while patting his thigh with the other.
“Come on, little wolf, we may as well get this over.”
“I don’t want to be spanked!”
“Neither do any of the other she-wolves who find themselves in your place. In the past, this pack has not given its unmated females the structure and support they need. When Alaric became alpha…”
“By forcing my sister,” Arielle interrupted.
“By claiming his fated mate,” he corrected her in a calm voice, “that practice came to an end. I’ve had to scold you or ground you to your room more than once for doing the same kind of things.”
“But I brought back important information to help keep the pack safe!”
“Information that we already had. Your duties do not include scout or border patrol. Alaric knew about the mutants and already had a plan in place to deal with them. If you had managed to get yourself caught, raped, or killed, it would only have made things worse; so you see, you disobeyed your alpha and endangered yourself for no reason.”
Tristan beckoned her with his fingers and patted his thigh again.
Slowly the realization that there was no way to avoid being spanked dawned on her. “I don’t know what to do, Tristan…”
“I know, little wolf. You come to me and put yourself over my thigh so that you can rest your upper body on the bed. Then I’ll lift Alaric’s shirt to bare your bottom…”
“No, Tristan, please?”
“Yes, Arielle. I want you to know that had Alaric not ordered me to spank you, I would have asked his permission to do so.”
“You hate me?” she asked tearfully.
“No, quite the contrary. I want you to be safe and happy whether it’s in this pack or another. And for that to happen, you need to learn to behave… even when it’s not something you want to do. If you plan to be an effective mistress to a great pack, you will need to obey your mate and alpha. Your sister can tell you that alpha males have little patience for their mates’ disobedience and can get creative in correcting behavior they deem unseemly.”
He beckoned her with his fingers again. “Come on, Arielle; I’m not going to ask you again and if I have to come get you, I’ll spank you that much harder. Now, Ari,” he said in no uncertain terms.
“You can’t do this to me.”
“I can. You need to accept the fact, little wolf, that you’re going to get your bottom spanked for your behavior and decide not to do something in the future that will get you spanked again. Last time, Ari; you come over here and put yourself over my knee.”
Arielle had no doubt Tristan meant to beat her in the same way Alaric had Rowan and Gareth had Sloan. She knew she should move forward to do what Tristan had directed, but her feet seemed to be firmly planted in place. She kept her eyes firmly glued to the floor. Arielle heard the bed creak as Tristan stood up and walked over to get her. His hand reached gently for hers.
“No,” she wailed.
Tristan’s hand closed around hers as she tried to pull away. He held firm. Arielle tried once more to dig in her heels to prevent him from leading her to the bed, but all she managed to accomplish was to get dragged across the room.
Tristan sat back down and brought her to stand between his legs. He turned her so she was standing sideways. Arielle took a deep breath and started to lean over his knee. He prevented her from doing so.
“No, Ari, I told you if I had to come get you, that you’d get spanked worse. If you had been properly dressed and not merely covering your nakedness from having shifted with Alaric’s shirt, I would have spanked you over your undergarments. Naughty she-wolves normally get spanked on their bare bottom… and because you find yourself dressed only as you are, you will be no different.”
Arielle tried to push his hand away as he reached for the hem of the shirt. Tristan grabbed both her hands with one of his, lifted the garment out of his way, and landed a hard swat across her naked derriere.
“Enough. It will only be worse if you don’t settle down and show me that you accept your punishment.”
“Tristan, please; I won’t do it again.”
“That’s what you told me last time; so, technically, you lied to me on top of everything else.”
Tristan tugged her over his knee and flipped the shirt up over her back, baring her bottom.
“Tristan, please don’t!” Arielle said, hating the note of whining she could hear in her voice.
She determined it was the last time she would plead. She was quite certain that Rowan and Sloan had never pleaded. Like the ranked members of a pack, the two women she admired most gave orders and those orders were followed. Arielle cleared her throat and prepared to issue her first order.
Her plan to do so was cut short as she felt the harsh impact of a man’s hand on her bottom for only the second time. She was quite certain no she-wolf had ever been swatted that hard. Arielle yowled in response. She kicked her legs, which Tristan had trapped, and tried to wriggle away from his grip.
Tristan held firm and began rhythmically spanking her. Arielle could not believe how much it hurt or that anything could make Rowan forgive Alaric for subjecting her to this treatment. She vowed to learn to use a sword so she could take Tristan’s head… or, at the very least, the hand that he was spanking her with. She struggled and screamed in pain.
“I take it you don’t like being spanked, little wolf?” Tristan asked in an amused tone.
“Not one damn bit,” she snarled, surprising herself. She had never growled at anyone before; until this moment, she hadn’t even known she knew how to growl.
Tristan spanked her harder. “Don’t you growl at me. You want me to believe I’m getting through to you, then you show me you’re sorry.”
“I hate you.”
“I’ll bet you do, and you’re going to hate me worse if you don’t settle down and accept your punishment like a good girl.”
His hand continued to beat a steady tempo of pain on her buttocks. Arielle couldn’t believe anyone had ever been spanked so mercilessly. Her entire backside was on fire. Each of Tristan’s strikes seemed to compound with those before it to continually ratchet up the level of pain. She now understood why Rowan’s behind had been so red when Alaric had carried her into the keep after their first meeting at the standing stones.
Tristan’s hand descended in what seemed to be a never-ending series of blows. Didn’t his hand hurt? Where was Rowan? Did she not know that her beloved sister was being beaten?
Arielle gasped at the pain and tried to hold back the tears by biting her lower lip.
“The sooner you give in to your spanking, little wolf, the sooner I’ll start to think about stopping,” Tristan said calmly.
“I won’t!” she screeched as the tears finally started to fall. “Rowan!” she sobbed.
Miraculously, the hand stopped. “Your sister can do little to help you. You were the one who misbehaved, and you will be the one to face the consequences of that choice.”
“Rowan will have your head!”
“No doubt she’d like nothing better. But she too is subject to Alaric’s authority, both as alpha and mate. Keep in mind that if you try to get her to fight your battles, all that will happen is that you will get spanked harder and ensure your sister finds herself over Alaric’s knee getting her own spanking. Have you had enough?”
Arielle made no sound.
Tristan sighed and then resumed spanking her. “When I ask you a question, little wolf, you will answer me. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” she wailed. His hand continued to strike her. “I answered you!”
“You did, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop until I think I’ve gotten through to you. Have I?’
“Yes,” she cried. “Please stop. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. Please?”
Once again Tristan’s hand came to rest gently on her fiery bottom. Without a word he helped her to her feet and ensured the shirt fell past her blistered backside. He led her to the corner of her room and placed her there, facing it.
“Let this be a lesson to you, Arielle; little she-wolves who break the rules and disobey their alpha get their bottom turned bright red and have to stand in the corner until they have atoned for their behavior. You are to remain here until Bryan, Alaric, or I give you permission to come out. Understand?”
She nodded and his hand connected with her rump in another painful blow. “Yes, I understand. Please be done.”
“For now. When I come back, if you’ve minded me, I’ll consider your punishment over.”
“Yes, Tristan. Thank you,” she said meekly.
Tristan tilted her head toward his and kissed her temple. “That’s better,” he said kindly.
He left the room; Arielle remained where she was. She knew the door remained open and prayed no one would walk by and see her standing there. She was grateful that Tristan hadn’t left her naked backside visible for anyone to see but wished he had closed the door so that she didn’t feel so exposed.
It wasn’t too long before Arielle heard the sound of boot steps on the stone floor. She glanced over her shoulder and was shocked and dismayed to see Alaric. The legs of her desk chair scraped along the floor as it was being pulled out.
“Tristan seems to think he managed to get through to you. Did he?” he asked.
“Your sister will be glad to hear it. She too has her nose in a corner.”
“That’s not fair. She didn’t do anything,” Arielle protested.
“Like you, she failed to respect my authority and had to be reminded that not doing so will get a she-wolf in this pack spanked.”
“You’re a bastard and I don’t know why my sister loves you.”
Alaric surprised her by laughing as he left the chair and joined her. Turning her around to face him, he kissed her forehead.
“She loves me because she has no choice. I am her fated mate, and the day will come when you are called to a mate of your own. If you think you can behave, you can get dressed and rejoin the pack.”
“What about Rowan?” she asked as he headed out the door.
“Rowan and I plan to spend the evening alone in our chambers. A claimed she-wolf has a different way of atoning to her mate,” he said, chuckling. He turned to look at her and grinned affectionately. “That too you will learn when your fated mate claims you as his.”
“What if I don’t want to be claimed?” she asked softly.
“I might remind you that neither your sister nor Sloan wanted to be claimed and it did them little good. When the alpha wolf that is your fated mate seeks to claim you, if he is worthy of you, no power on this earth, including your stubbornness and pride, will prevent him from doing so.”
With that, Alaric strode from her room and walked down the hall toward his own chambers. Arielle stood there considering his words. She knew he was right. She-wolves in their society had few choices and even less power. He may have been right about her sister and Sloan, but she would avoid the trap that had ensnared them. Arielle determined that she would never answer the call of a mate. She had no intention of being subjected to being spanked or marked for that matter. Both were painful and humiliating.
Hadn’t one of her ancestors once founded an all-female pack? Perhaps the time had come for another attempt at autonomy within their society for a group of she-wolves. Perhaps that was her destiny… not as mistress to a great pack, but as alpha to one.